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Monday, September 23, 2013

Blog Post Six

So, “What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?” Well, after reading “The Right Way to Ask Questions” by Ben Johnson, a high school principal, I got some great insight on how teachers have been asking questions previously. I remember in high school my teachers always asking the same exact question, “does everybody understand?” Do you understandThe question Ben Johnson explains is a useless question that teachers constantly use, and I fully agree. This question does not benefit the student, nor does it show if they actually understand. I remember teachers asking this question, and students saying yes just so the teacher would move on to another topic. Some students said nothing at all in hopes for the same thing. How do the students understand? They cannot with these types of questions!

Therefore, in response to this idea, I have come up with the four key topics for educators to know about asking questions in order to be an effective teacher. These four topics are:

1. Prepared/Preserved Questions
2. Different/Specific Questions
3. Student’s Answers
4. Answer’s Response

1. The questions that we teachers ask must be prepared. By having questions prepared, we will have them ready for the right moment. I always have the “dang it” moment when I forget a great question I could have asked. If I prepared my questions, I would not have had to worry about forgetting about my questions at all. In addition, questions must be preserved. Write it down! Write student’s responses down! Write it all down! I can’t remember what I ate last week, never mind trying to remember what a student said in class or what I even said. We can use these preserved questions in later classes. “Asking Questions to Improve Learning” used the example, “While you think about your answers, let me share a student’s answer in a previous class.” This type of example gives the student just a little extra help in formulating an answer for themselves, because they get to hear about how another student answered the same question.

2. be specificThe questions we ask must also be specific if we want to teach effectively. We have to avoid leading questions that answer the question in itself. We can avoid leading questions with some techniques I saw in “Questioning Styles and Strategies”. We should ask probe questions, so after the student provides an answer, we ask “why” or “how?” As much as time allows, we should try to extend all questions. For example, we could ask, “anyone else have something they would like to add?” Then, pick a student to share their thoughts. In addition, educators should clarify questions. We can ask, “tell me what you mean” or “give me an example.” Teachers should also follow the normal “yes-and-no” question with an additional question that requires though. Furthermore, the questions asked by teachers must be asked in different ways. The questions can be closed, managerial, or open. A closed question usually has a specific answer and is useful to test for retention and comprehension. A managerial question is a question directed for if the student does not understand their assignment or have the necessary materials for a project. Open questions may not have a specific answer and is useful to encourage discussion and active learning.

3. When asking a question, an educator must give about five seconds for the students to collect their thoughts. After giving them this time, call on a random student. This way the whole class was thinking about the question, just in case you called on them. I think it is important that each student be called on at least once during the class. The more the students are used to thinking about questions and openly answering them, the better the chance they will become active learners.

4. be specificAs an educator, it is important that we value the student’s feedback whether it is a right or wrong answer. By showing your interest either way, you are helping the student want to answer more. That is not to say that you should say an answer is right when it is wrong. This goes with the ideas of successful peer editing. The key is to stay positive while providing meaningful feedback.

With these four key topics, any educator will know how to ask questions in order to be an effective teacher. Our classrooms must be fully engaging and thoughtful.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

C4T Assignment One

For my C4T assignment, I was assigned to Mr. Joseph McCaleb and his blog, Doc Horse Tales. At first, I was quite curious about this title. What is the meaning of Doc Horse Tales? Over in his about me, he explains this meaning, and how it basically his identity. He explains that doc stands for his earning of a Ph.D., thus making him a doctor. Horse represents his love of riding horses, and tales represents his love of storytelling. As mentioned before, Mr. McCaleb has a Ph.D with an emphasis on English education and rhetorical studies, also known as literacy education. Through his posts, you can feel his love for horses and storytelling, because he incorporates those elements almost every time. I really enjoyed reading his posts, and I would recommend his blog to anyone, especially a person who loves horses and English.

In his first post, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation!” Summer Vacationhe discusses the topic of the graded, first day of class prompt of his post’s title. “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” is a topic that Mr. McCaleb and I both agree is a forced topic that gives students no room for expression. He then begins to discuss how he imagines changing this worn out class prompt through a thank you letter written by him and his horse to the Institute of Conscious Awareness. The letter was a way of expressing Mr. McCaleb’s thoughts through his horse. The horse discusses things about running fast and enjoying the company of Mr. McCaleb. At the end of the post, he discusses how seeing through the mind of a horse can get us to see the engagement of humans in different ways. I thought about an example of this as riding a horse and enjoying how wonderful riding is, and the horse thinking the exact opposite. He then asks us to imagine classrooms balanced with the external/internal collaboration of humans and horses.

In response, I agreed completely with Mr. McCaleb. Here is an excerpt from my comment:

“I agree with you on the concept that the "What I did this summer" prompt we had to write every year was forced, and the prompt leaves the student no room for true writing expression. I also would like to thank you for the idea of "imprinting a stallion's mind within my own body." At first, I did not understand this idea, but after seriously thinking about it, I interpreted this post as saying, "think as if you were in someone else's shoes." I thoroughly enjoyed the thank you letter written by your horse. I think by changing the casual "What I did this summer" prompt by using a different mindset is a powerful way to adjust the typical responses by students.”

Dr. Suess His post made me really think about ways to transform the “norm” of writing prompts into something unique, just as he did in his thank you letter. For example, we can take the “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” prompt and add “now, think about this prompt from the point of view of your shoes.” How many different responses would a teacher get? How unique would it make this tired out prompt? This post helped me gain a more creative eye for my future teaching.

His next post I read was “Why write? Because you love to.” I also enjoyed reading this post very much. The whole topic of this post is why people write. He also says if you don’t think you love to write then keep reading.He lists five certain points. The first point is that humans write because it is a part of our character. The second point is that there are many options to writing that go past pen and paper such as technology (hint…BLOGGING!). The third point is that by writing we are releasing tension, and it makes us happier. If we can’t write because it makes us happier, how we can we expect our students to engage actively in writing? The fourth point is if we can’t do it, then we can do it for the kids. The point in this is that teachers normally teach what they love, and if you love what you do then you can easily motivate others. Fifth and final point, if we can’t find time to write, then we should maybe thing about getting someone else to do the things we have to so we can make time for writing.

In response, I, again, completely agree with Mr. McCaleb. Here is an excerpt from my comment:

”You reminded me that writing is something we love, and there is no reason for not doing. I also agree with other comments that #3 is a great point. We should be motivated as educators to be excited with our writing so we can motivate our students.”

Teach Happy I have not ever thought of myself loving writing, but after point number two, three, and four I thought again. I really thought about number four and how it applies to me even now in college. For example, we have all had that one teacher who did not ever seem like they enjoyed the subject they taught. I know that this kind of teaching only makes it worse on the students. We motivate others even more when we love the subject too. Overall, this post made me really think about how important writing is not only for us, but also for our students.

Blog Post Four

Why Podcast? How Do We Do a Podcast?

PodcastingAfter reading Judy Scharf’s Podcast Collection , I was able to think about the questions, “why a podcast?” and “how do we podcast.” Judy Scharf is a 7th grade computer applications teacher in New York, and she explains the meaning of a podcast and lets us know how to start podcasting in her podcast collection. Podcasting is just a great and easy way to communicate our ideas and messages. It requires little equipment and is super easy to start. After listening to the two Langwitches posts, I realized that podcasting can be used to deliver a series of content.

Vacation under the VolcanoMy favorite post of Langwitches that I chose to read was Langwitches-Podcasting with 1st Grade . In this post, a first grade class reads the chapter book called Vacation under the Volcano, by Mary Pope Osborne from the Magic Tree House Series. The students were to pretend they were the characters in the story, and they had to discuss their last trip. I really loved the post, not only because I got to listen to actual podcast, but also because I was in love with reading the Magic Tree House Series. Remembering all the stories made me really connect to this post. One thing I found interesting was how well six year olds responded to using technology. I would have never thought in 1st grade, I would be seeing children creating and editing a podcast. I am astonished by their interaction with the podcast and skills learned by it. They seemed to be really into it! This post makes me think about Sugata Mitra’s "hole in the wall" by thinking about how much children can learn on their own. It honestly blows my mind how by using technology, children can advance so quickly in simple skills like listening, speaking, and comprehension. These children did so well, and I would encourage everyone to listen to them.

My Podcast: This post taught me some ways to prepare for my podcast. One main thing I learned is to practice what I say before I say it! In addition, the whole idea that they used of putting themselves in the character’s shoes would be a great way to twist my podcast into something unique.

The next post I chose to read was Langwitches-Flat Stanley Podcast. In this post, the students pretended to be flat Stanley, a character who is flattened then travels around the world. The students picked a location after reading the book and created a script for themselves with questions such as how did they get there? What did they do while they were there? How did they get home? Flat StanleyThe way the children were speaking with such expression made this podcast more than interesting. They used such great details to describe how it feels to be in the envelope that I was imagining it in my head as they were saying it! I would have never thought about how it would have felt to be in the envelope, and I think that was a great, interesting twist.

My Podcast: This post really helped me think about the descriptive skill set needed to make a quality podcast. A podcast is not something I could just “wing” or “throw together.” It requires time, effort, and a lot of thought!

My last reading was Judy Scharf’s Podcast Collection. This, overall, was the most informative post I have read. Her post helped me answer the questions, “why podcast” and “how do we podcast?” The other two posts were useful to help me think about ways to make my podcast more interesting and creative, and made me think about how far in the world my podcast could go. At first, I had little knowledge of a podcast, and what goes into making one. After reading her collection, I know so much more about podcasting. I really enjoyed her “tips to succeed.” I think that specific post will really help me in my podcast. I could use it as a checklist to go by while creating my podcast. Overall, Judy Deharf gives almost every tip and idea for a podcast, and her posts are an excellent read for anyone interested in podcasting!

Love Podcasting

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blog Post Three

Negative NancyPeer Editing, one of the many things we, students, would rather not do. Now, why is that? All we are doing is helping another classmate with his/her writing. I think students shy away from peer editing, because they have been misinformed of how to actually do it. In grade school, peer editing consisted of making your peer’s paper bleed with red ink by finding all the mistakes you could. Many of us still hold to the idea that peer editing is when we just show the other person all of their mistakes, and that is exactly why most students do not want to peer edit anymore. Who wants to be a negative Nancy? I do not!

Personally, when peer editing, I always had the problem of being “Jean the Generalizer” described in Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes. I would never be specific enough, and would say, “This does not make sense”. Well, how does that help someone? They have no idea of how to correct it, and I think this is where the skill of being a peer editor comes in. Instead of saying, “this does not make sense.” Instead of being vague, we could say, “If you add more details after this sentence, it would be more clear.” From these provided links, I have learned the three steps to perfect peer editing are:

1. Compliments- Let the writer know how much you enjoyed or agreed with his/her work.
2. Suggestions- Let the writer know what you did not understand, and give them some simple feedback on how to change it.
3. Corrections- Let the writer know the common mistakes you have seen, and offer them some ways to fix them.

While going through all of these steps, we have to remember to
STAY POSITIVE and BE SPECIFIC

In reflection of grading my own peer’s work, these links have really helped me not worry about peer editing and has me excited for it. Peer Editing As for offering suggestions, I think I would publicly make general suggestions. General suggestions would include common errors, or parts of their work I did/did not understand with specific options on how to change it. Privately, if there were many more mistakes, I would offer more specific help by sending them an email with my corrections and specific suggestions, much like Paige discussed in her Blog Post Assignment #12. The key to peer editing is staying positive and complimenting your peer for the things you like or agree with.

After reading Paige Ellis’s Blog Post Assignment #12 and watching What is Peer Editing?, Peer Edit With Perfection Tutorial, and Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes, I now realize that peer editing is very helpful and far from negative. Instead of providing your peer with all their mistakes, you are providing suggestions. From Paige’s blog post, I learned that it is okay to give a peer specific suggestions as long as you are positive with how you say them. Her post cleared the air for me, because giving corrections publicly or privately has always been a question for me. No one wants to discourage someone in his or her writing. In the Peer Edit With Perfection Tutorial, I learned more specific ways to peer edit such as different ways to give specific suggestions. It also enhanced my knowledge on things I already knew, such as looking out for grammar and punctuation mistakes. After watching Writing Peer Review Top 10 Mistakes, I really thought about how I have seen one of these editors almost every year. The video also showed me that I can be a discouraging editor too and made me think of ways I can change that. Overall, these videos were very helpful for me, as a student, to not be apprehensive about peer editing and truly guided my way into becoming a successful peer editor.

Happy Peer Editor